Flat­ter learn­ing curve

Mi­cro and Mini Max Ro­tax En­gines adds in­ter­me­di­ate kart­ing en­gines for SA

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING - STU­ART JOHN­STON • stu­john@ne­tac­tive.co.za

RO­TAX has in­tro­duced two new ju­nior kart­ing en­gines for young­sters to smooth the way to rac­ing star­dom: The new Mi­cro Max and Mini Max classes

Ro­tax, mak­ers of the world’s most suc­cess­ful and re­li­able kart­ing en­gines, have in­tro­duced two new rac­ing classes for young­sters de­ter­mined to make their mark in the ex­act­ing world of mo­tor rac­ing.

For the past four decades kart­ing has pro­vided the spring­board for in­ter­na­tional mo­tor rac­ing suc­cess, spawn­ing F1 cham­pi­ons like Lewis Hamil­ton and our own Jody Scheck­ter, and to­day things are more com­pet­i­tive than ever, with young girls and boys barely old enough to start school cut­ting their teeth in kart­ing.

In­deed, South Africa has long sub­scribed to this phi­los­o­phy of “start them while they’re young” and we cur­rently run cham­pi­onships for kids aged be­tween five to eight years old in var­i­ous re­gions.

Th­ese so- called “Cadet” class karts em­ploy 50 cc en­gines tuned to pro­duce 3 kW, and it is a treat to see fields of up to 20 of th­ese chil­dren bar­relling around a track with crash hel­mets that seem to be as broad as their young shoul­ders. Long- time Ro­tax im­porter Ed Mur­ray said the next step up for th­ese young­sters is into the 60 cc Na­tional Cham­pi­onship classes, for driv­ers aged from eight to 13 years old.

“The big­gest prob­lem with th­ese classes — and they now boast na­tional cham­pi­onship sta­tus — is that the step up in power is huge,” said Mur­ray.

“From 3 kW, the young driver sud­denly finds him­self hav­ing to cope with 9 kW from a high­ly­tuned 60 cc en­gine — that’s three times the power.

“It may not sound like much to an adult, but when you are eight years old it is a fright­en­ing step.

“This is where Ro­tax comes in, with its new Mi­cro Max en­gine, paving the way for an in­ter­me­di­ary step up the kart­ing lad­der,” said Mur­ray

Re­stricted power

The Mi­cro Max kart­ing en­gine, de­signed for driv­ers aged 7- 10, is yet an­other vari­a­tion on the Ro­tax for­mula for suc­cess that sees the same ba­sic en­gine used across a whole age- group range, with easy- to- fa­cil­i­tate but telling changes made to the en­gines to re­strict or in­crease power. The Mi­cro Max en­gine still em­ploys the same 125 cc ca­pac­ity as its more pow­er­ful brothers in the Ro­tax se­ries that sees steps in power all the way up to 22 kW in the top sin­gle- gear en­gine run in the Se­nior Max se­ries for driv­ers 15 years and older.

But the Mi­cro Max mo­tor, al­though us­ing the same bul­let­proof cylin­der and en­gine cas­ing, has re­stric­tors em­ployed to re­duce its power out­put to 6 kW.

This is achieved by in­tro­duc­ing a thick spacer un­der the cylin- der to re­duce com­pres­sion and com­bus­tion area squish, adding a very small ex­haust re­stric­tor, and us­ing a non- ex­pan­sion- box ex­haust sys­tem, which ef­fec­tively does away with any su­per­charg­ing ef­fect as en­joyed by the more highly tuned two strokes.

In ad­di­tion the ra­di­a­tor em­ployed is much smaller on the Mi­cro Max en­gine.

This en­gine is de­signed to fit on the kart chas­sis cur­rently used in the 60 cc Max­terino and Mini Rok classes.

The ad­van­tage of this is that this chas­sis can still be used if the com­peti­tor wants to com­pete in the more pow­er­ful 60 cc classes, run for eight to 13- year- olds at Na­tional Cham­pi­onships.

And theMi­cro Max en­gine can also be used for the next step up, where it is eas­ily up- graded with in­ex­pen­sive parts.

For karters aged 10- 13

Ro­taxMini Max, for karters aged 10- 13, is the next step up the kart­ing lad­der af­ter Max­terino/ Mini Rok/ Mi­cro Max. The same base Ro­tax en­gine is em­ployed, but with less re­stric­tion.

A rac­ing ex­pan­sion- box type ex­haust ( the iden­ti­cal one used in Ju­nior and Se­nior Max classes) and a larger di­am­e­ter ex­haust re­stric­tor is em­ployed and power for Mini Max now rises to 11 kW.

This is the ideal step­ping stone to­wards the Ju­nior Max class ( for 13- 16- year- olds), where again there is a big power hike to 15 kW. This newMini Max­class will em­ploy the same chas­sis as used in the 60cc Na­tional classes.

The ad­van­tage for some driv­ers will be that the weight limit moves from the 110 kg of the 60 cc class to 125 kg.

Many young­sters suf­fer growth spurts at this stage of their lives and the 125 kg weight limit will be eas­ier to make.

“The Mi­cro Max en­gine pro­vides an easy to drive flat power curve that as­sists young­sters to re­cover from mis­takes eas­ily and Ro­tax’s leg­endary re­li­a­bil­ity comes to the fore in real cost sav­ings,” says Ed Mur­ray.

“Al­though a Mi­cro Max en­gine costs more than its 50 or 60 cc ri­vals the run­ning costs are a frac­tion of con­ven­tional mo­tors thanks to mod­ern ma­te­ri­als and very low stress lev­els.

“There is even a cost sav­ing on oil con­sump­tion — 50% less — and it’s kin­der to the en­vi­ron­ment in noise and air pol­lu­tion.”

New classes in next races

It is planned to in­tro­duce the two new classes over the course of the 2016 sea­son, and al­ready young- sters are en­thralled by the new Mi­cro Max and Mini Max classes, many of them hav­ing sam­pled the new en­gines at a club race meet­ing demon­stra­tion out­ing in Jan­uary 2016.

“This is the fu­ture of kart­ing, where we in­tro­duce af­ford­able, ul­tra- re­li­able en­gines to an age group where en­thu­si­asm is at its peak, and where young­sters and par­ents don’t want their race week­ends ham­pered by re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues or for­ever run­ning- in en­gines af­ter re­builds.

“With th­ese en­gines run­ning in such low states of tune, and with no mod­i­fi­ca­tions of any type al­lowed in any of the Ro­tax classes, the em­pha­sis will all be about the driver, which is the way Ro­tax in­tended it to be when it started this amaz­ing en­gine se­ries 18 years ago.,” said Mur­ray.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED For more in­for­ma­tion on the new Mi­cro Max and Mini Max kart­ing classes, visit www. kart. co. za or con­tact Jen­nifer Ver­heul on 082 294 7485.

A young carter gets some last minute ad­vice be­fore rac­ing starts.

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